From left: Antowine Johnson, Simon Ramirez, Juan Vergara and Seferina Ortiz spoke about their backgrounds with the Socorro City Council at the Nov. 1 meeting. All four are new Socorro Police officers.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

The city of Socorro has four new police officers. The positions are supported with grant funding for their first three years.

The new officers came before the Socorro City Council at their Nov. 1 meeting.

Antowine Johnson is originally from San Bernardino, California and attended high school in Belen, New Mexico, and attended University of New Mexico for college. He worked as a probation officer in Socorro previously.

Simon Ramirez is from California and was in corrections for nine years before becoming an officer.

Juan Veraga is from Socorro and graduated from Belen. He lives in Los Lunas and worked at the Central Prison for 13 years before becoming an officer.

Seferina Ortiz has lived in Socorro for most of her life. She has an associates in criminal justice.

“I know the community and want to help it out,” said Ortiz.

“These four new officers are being hired through the law enforcement grant we receive last month,” said City Administrator Donald Monette. “With them coming in, we’re trying to raise everybody up, and with their beginning salaries we had to raise the other police officers up.”

The grant from the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration Law Enforcement Fund is providing the city with $787,500 to hire up to six qualified officers. The money will be paid out over three years.

“Over the next three years as this money phases down, we’ll still have to pay these officers,” said Monette. So, the city’s budget committee will need to keep that expense in mind.

As of Tuesday, the new officers have already started and are in the field with training officers, Chief of Police Angel Garcia told the Chieftain. The department is still accepting applicants to fill the remaining two positions supported by the grant funding.

In other business the City Council:

—Recognized the New Mexico Tech mens rugby team for its accomplishments. The team won a national title last year. As of the meeting, the team was 6-1 this season.

—Held a public hearing on the small brewer liquor license application from Baca House ­brewery LLC. There was no discussion during the public hearing. The Council approved the license in regular session.

—Awarded a bid for new landfill cell liners to the lowest bidder, Patriot Environmental, for almost $1.3 million. The next highest bids from CBKN DIrtworks, Inc. and Sanchez Demolition, Inc. were closer to $1.4 million, while the highest bidder Morrow Enterprises, Inc. bid almost $2.7 million.

The next Socorro City Council meeting will be Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers.